By Khalaf Al-Harbi
NOTHING is more dangerous than the fatwas that some scholars issue without much thought. Such fatwas can set back a people (Ummah) centuries. Perhaps one of the most infamous fatwas was the one given by the scholars of the Ottoman Empire some three centuries ago in which they prohibited printing. In fact they went a step further and warned that anyone who dealt with this invention was committing an act of blasphemy.
At that time the Ottoman scholars were afraid that the Holy Qur’an will be altered and the calligraphists lose their source of income. This fatwa played a major part behind the backwardness the Ummah has been experiencing since.
The Arabs waited long until Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Egypt in 1798 and brought with him the first ever printing press which helped them come out from the middle ages.
After this infamous fatwa, many hundreds of similar nature followed, some as absurd as prohibiting drinking coffee, using photography and satellite dishes in addition to some other modern inventions. With the passage of time these edicts became irrelevant because they lacked substantiating evidence in the Qur’an and the Hadith. Many defied reason and logic.
On of them which has surfaced these days is the permissibility of bribery if a Muslim doesn’t find any other option to restore his rights. Who can ever believe that our righteous religion permits bribery? Even small children know bribery is an evil menace. What is the logic behind this allegation that the briber is not an accomplice in the crime and the recipient of the bribery should only be held accountable?
If matters are as simple as this then I suppose a fatwa may be issued to acquit the recipient of a bribe of the bribery crime if his monthly salary is not enough to meet his expenses or because of injustice done to him where he was ignored for a promotion to a higher grade and by doing so he was deprived of leading an honorable life. If this is the case, then any crime in this world can be justified.
Thus a thief can justify the theft crime he committed since he was starving and didn’t have money to buy food. Even a murderer can say he killed X or Y because he was in a state of anger.
Such edicts being circulated these days about permitting bribery are not the first of their kind. I don’t believe we need to create further edicts about clear-cut issues especially if this issue has no margin or room for Ijtihad. Ijtihad is the endeavor of a Muslim scholar to derive a rule from the Islamic sources of law.
There are already resolved issues in Islam concerning bribery. The Prophet (peace be upon him) cursed the briber and the recipient of the bribe. What can be more clear than that!
Source: Okaz newspaper & Saudi gazette